Friday's Treat ~ Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie

I thought I would do something special for today since it is Valentines Day. My husband doesn't really care to deliver heart shaped anything to co-workers but this year I did it anyway! :) 

I don't think there is much to say about these. The pictures tell you everything you need to know! They are really, really good! So easy and cute!

I baked these on a sheet pan and then when they were completely cool cut them into strips just wide enough for the heart shaped cutter and place that on a cutting board. It was easier to do it that way then try to dig the cutter out of the pan. :)

We don't really celebrate Valentine's Day but I do try to make  { or bake } something special....just because. Not that I need an excuse but I feel better about eating something like this if it is for a "special" day!

Here is the recipe. Bake some today for someone you love. They will love you back:)

Happy Valentines Day!!!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

1 box red velvet cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Beat together the cake mix, butter, egg, and water until well combined. Dough will be very thick and sticky. Press the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Drop by the spoonful onto the brownie dough.
  4. Bake brownies for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven and run a knife through the dough to swirl the cheesecake througout. Return to the oven and continue baking for 25 minutes or until set.
  5. Cool completely before cutting.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
 ~ recipe adapted from Food Fanatic


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I know it's been forever since I have done a post on here. It's been a little crazy since November. It took our oldest awhile to recover from his surgery in November. A few days before leaving the hospital my husband started a new job on the slope. For those outside of Alaska, the "slope" is at the top of Alaska. He works on the pipeline. It's a three week on, three week off rotation. But since November 22, for several reasons, he has only been home for three weeks. He is scheduled to return home on Monday. I can't wait. Pretty much anything that could go wrong has and then some. Also, a week after getting home from the hospital we closed on a house in Sutton, AK. It's a log sided house on 5 1/2 acres on the Mat-Su River. Can I just say we LOVE it there. I have been going back and forth (1 1/2 drive from Anchorage) a couple of times a week painting. Hopefully, we will be out there full time by April.

So, back to the title of this post, homemade dishwasher detergent. I have been using this for awhile now and have no complaints. For me it works great and I save money. I usually only run the dishwasher once a day, after dinner. This recipe lasts me about five weeks and costs about $2.00. The price depends on where I buy the ingredients and if they happen to be on sale. Also, we don't have hard water so sometimes I don't use the citrus shine (that makes a difference in the price). I also use vinegar as a rinse aid (just fill the rinse aid dispenser as normal). I have not had any issues with spots on the glasses, dishes are always clean. The best part is that you haven't used any harsh chemicals and save money. I got my recipe from here.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 1/2 cup Lemi-Shine (used for hard water)
1 1/2 cup super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Baking Soda
1/2 cup Sea Salt
Mix it all together and fill your dishwasher soap dispenser as normal.

It's so simple, works great, and it's cheap. It's worth a try.



Gift Wrapping

Gift wrapping is just not my thing. I always love receiving a beautifully wrapped gift, not to mention they look so much better under the tree! This year I wanted to make mine look pretty but still simple and in keeping with my style. I love the look of the brown paper packaging tied up with string. I just so happen to have a few holly bushes by the patio so that was the perfect thing to give the gifts a little color and keep it natural. 

Here is also another use of the birch rounds I used for the Merry Christmas garland. I just used one of my husbands drill bits to make the hole and then used the same twine I used for the gifts to give it something to hang by. 

I used a fine point sharpie to write out what I wanted. I tried to stamp it but the ink didn't take to these rounds as well and there just wasn't enough room to do it the same was I did the garland. 

I used simple brown tags that I picked up at Hobby Lobby and then used my snowflake stamp with brown ink that I already had. 

I love the holly. That is definitely my favorite part. 

I did all my gifts this way. I like them to all match. Is that weird?

I hope you are enjoying this exciting time leading up the Christmas day. I know I am trying to make time slow down  and enjoy every second.  My oldest little girl is having so much fun with everything which makes this time of year soo much better!!!

Mary Elizabeth



Christmas in Indiana

Well, winter is in full swing here in northern Indiana. I say, if it's going to be cold it may as well snow and since the temp's are in the teens I am happy it's snowing! I love snow this time of year. It makes the Christmas season complete.  I have a few photos of my home with our Christmas decor done, at least I think it's done. I am always adding and taking and changing....it drives me crazy:)

table by front door

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas trees. I am always on the hunt for the perfect one and it has yet to be found. I always settle. This year has proven to be no different. I really like my tree this year though. It's just not what I was looking for...... We have decided from now on we will get the worse tree we can find rather than search for something that isn't there { maybe }.  :)

Christine sent this for Lyla last year
my tin ornaments are favorites
christmas chimes
white snowflakes in the tree

love burlap

The dining room center piece is very simple. Just some greenery, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and holly from my backyard....

This little lantern is my favorite thing this year. I found it at TJ Maxx while we were visiting my sister Rhiannon over Thanksgiving. 

My coffee cup for the winter season. I had to show you because it is sitting here next to me as I write and looked so cute:) 

I really like my mantle this year, again very simple but still looks great. I always struggle here because I can't put anything too high in the middle. My husband doesn't like to move around too much just to change the channel:)

I hand stamped this little garland for the mantel. I love it!! Did it on little birch chips I found at Michael's.

I took the pictures at different times of the day with different weather conditions....can you tell? :)   
Simple seems to be the theme for everyone this year, at least from what I have been reading online.
 I like simple.....:)   Merry Christmas!!!

Mary Elizabeth



Cinnamon Biscuits

I see it is my turn to give a tour of our Christmas home. I am working on it...finishing up some pictures first. Meanwhile we were hungry this morning { while working on Christmas pictures }, a perfect morning for something warm and sweet. Something called a Cinnamon Biscuit!!!
 There is a restaurant back home in North Carolina that had the best cinnamon biscuits. 

I have wanted to make my own several time and just never did, until today. They took all of 5 minutes to make, 15 minutes in the oven.....

This is what we ended up with.  A cinnamon biscuit so much better than any restaurant could make.  Light and fluffy, which is essential in any good  biscuit. A sweet topping and crust that was just the right amount of sweet. No sugar high here today:)

We don't have this kind of breakfast very often. Despite all of my sweet treats I post on here, we actually do eat pretty healthy....most of the time:) These would be great Christmas morning. So quick and easy!!

But not today. Today was a cinnamon biscuit kind of day, something special, something warm from the oven as we sat and watched the snow fly.


 Mary Elizabeth


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375. Butter and medium cast iron skillet.
Mix together the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter until you get course crumbs. Add just enough of buttermilk until everything pulls away from the sides and is just combined. { Sometimes I use it all and others I leave a tablespoon or so out }.  Drop large spoonfuls of dough into skillet, lightly smoothing out the tops. Cover with brown sugar topping and bake for about 15 minutes. 

Yields 8-10 biscuits

Brown Sugar Topping

1 stick very soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Mix together until smooth. Spoon onto biscuits and gently spread on top.


Christmas in Alaska 2013

Normally, I decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We get our tree, wreaths, and garlands on Friday. I start decorating on Friday and finish trimming the tree on Saturday after the branches have fallen from being wrapped. This year some things happened to our family right before Thanksgiving that preventive the usual from happening. This year we spent the Thanksgiving  weekend really being thankful. Our oldest son got sick on the 10th of November with what I thought was the flu. By the 14th we were in hospital and preparing for emergency surgery on his intestines. The only thing we knew was that there was some sort of blockage. Doctors had no idea what was causing it and wouldn't know until they opened him up and see what was going on. The short version is that after thirteen days in the hospital and some VERY long nights praying for God to heal him we came home the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. It ended up he had the worst Mekal diverticulitis that the Doctor had seen. He still isn't completely healed and is still dealing with some issues, but thankfully so far he seems to be on the road to recovery. I have been spending a lot of time cooking. After seventeen days of not eating he had quite the list of things he wanted as soon as he was able to eat again.
The decorating took a while this year. It's still not as much as I would like to do or usually do, but it's about all that is going to get done this year.

Just realized that one of Luke's get well balloons made it into a picture. 

Thought I would throw in the last two. I was trying to take some pictures to put into Christmas cards this year. I don't think the cards will get done. I took twenty two pictures are those two are the best. I know I really need to work on my photography skills. It's on my list of things to do everyday, but just doesn't seem to make to one of the very few things that I seem to get done. Jax and Rhiannon are the only ones that like to get their picture taken. Luke will smile the first couple, but then he's done. Mac he hates to get his picture taken. If he sees the camera he usually runs. I've read to get good pictures just let the kids play and interact. I get that part, but don't can't figure out how to keep a 5, 4, 3, and 19 month old playing close enough together to fit into one picture.

Merry Christmas,



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